The perfect deal, that’s what many private equity firms are searching for. That’s, a buyout of a company with years of stable to growing free cash flow, moderately high and defensible profit margins and a management team right out of central casting.
The competition for those perfect deals is intense and results in private equity groups paying relatively high prices to win. My colleague, Randy Schwimmer, author of the online newletter, “The Lead Left” reports the latest statistics in this excerpt from his recent issue:
For one thing, total leverage seems again to be reaching radioactive levels. Thomson Reuters LPC reports total debt to EBITDA for middle market institutional buyouts “skyrocketed” to 6.5x for the third quarter. Admittedly, that’s on a relatively small sampling, but the statistic points to a broader trend.
Higher leverage is being driven by similarly gravity-defying purchase price multiples. Of the four middle market LBOs where information is available, all were over 12x, and three were over 15x. This speaks to the fierce competition for new properties being engaged in by both private equity and strategic corporate buyers.
How long this lasts is anyone’s guess. But, while it lasts, if your company fits the criteria, you might consider a sale.
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